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Holiday's End

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((Hi all, if you don't know me, I used to hang around here quite a bit, but I really haven't been around since Cata. I recently re-subbed, and that got me to wondering what exactly my characters have been doing over the past few years. It was probably this. ))

Sabeinne reclined on her divan, lazily examining her fingernails and casting touch-up spells one by one. It was her second manicure that day, an activity that took precedence over more productive pursuits due to the fog that had settled dreamily over her mind. Business was slow. It had simply been too hot to tempt anyone to cross the blinding white sands, even for an establishment as reputed as her own. Enchantment maintained a pleasant coolness inside the sumptuous silk tents, but even so, scorching desert breezes crept in around the edges of the tent-flaps, infusing the interior with a stickily pleasant summer sluggishness. The effect was marred somewhat by the presence of Sabeinne's security orc, Miss Vond, asleep on a pile of cushions with her head falling back at a painful angle, snoring. Vond was wrapped in her all-weather uniform of snug black leathers, carefully chosen to provide her with a subtly threatening presence, a warning lest the customers should become unruly. In the heat she was growing pungent. Under typical circumstances this would have bothered Sabeinne immensely, but the tang of sweating orc flesh mingled gently with the light aura of incense that pervaded the tents, and in her dreamy state Sabeinne was inclined to think of it as an earthy musk. The orc’s snores beat out a slow, steady rhythm. The privacy enchantments separating this front chamber from the interior rooms of the tented palace muffled the murmurs of the pretty young men and women inside to a dull hum. The blue arcane lamps stationed at each corner of the room cast a soft twilight glow. Sabeinne’s eyelids fluttered and drew slowly, heavily closed.

Only to fly open again at the blast of hot air that rushed in as a man fumbled past the entry flaps and shuffled into the room, clearing his throat nervously. His gaze darted around the room and finally landed, with a perplexed stare, on the snoring orc. Sabeinne noted with displeasure that he was an elf. Though she would never admit it aloud, her own kind made terrible customers. They frequently covered their embarrassment with outrageous demands and tipped like misers, if at all.

Still. Business was business.

The customer started and spun around as Sabeinne got to her feet. “Welcome to our oasis in the desert,” she began, purring her spiel by rote through the lifting brain-fog. She surreptitiously flicked a tiny bolt of arcane energy at the orc, jolting her awake with a snort. “I think you’ll find that our—“

Wait. She knew this man. The distinguished nose, the perpetually-surprised eyebrows, the hardly existant upper lip—in all, managing to form a not entirely unpleasant combination—were all intimately familiar. He was a bit grayer at the temples, perhaps, but otherwise unmistakable. It was Thelian. Husband number three.

But there was some chance that he didn’t recognize her. Unusual circumstances, and all that. She quickly angled her head away and continued. “You’ll find that our—“


Sabeinne clenched her jaw. She supposed there was no point in denying it. “Ah, Thelian. I didn't recognize you.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I should ask the same of you.” She paused. Now here they were, balanced delicately on the edge of a mutual decision: would this play out civilly, or devolve into hostility? Sabeinne knew which way she would go. She really couldn't help it. She narrowed her eyes. “But then, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.”

Thelian’s eyebrows furrowed slightly, but he chose not to respond to the insinuation. He was still reluctant to fight, then. A terrible quality in a man.

His eyes flicked uncertainly to the curtains separating this entry chamber from the inner rooms. He cleared his throat again. “Hmm, yes. Hello. Ah, you’re not…you don’t…”

Sabeinne sneered. “God. No. I’m running a helling business here, if it isn’t perfectly obvious.”

Thelian attempted a smile. Behind him, Vond stood in a half-crouch with her hand on her dagger, eyes darting uncomfortably between the two elves. Thelian laughed weakly. “Lysimachus spent all your family’s gold again, did he?”

Yes, he did. And with the horrific prices Sabeinne charged, she’d been able to sneak quite a large sum back into the family coffers over the past few years. But that was not the point. “My brother’s actions hardly concern you.”

Thelian’s mouth compressed. He was losing his resolve to stay cordial, now, Sabeinne could see it. A little thrill fluttered through her chest.

“No, I suppose they don’t, do they?" Thelian paused and looked around, glanced uncomfortably at the orc hovering over his shoulder. When he looked back at Sabeinne, he straightened his posture with the air of a man affecting boldness. "I have to say, it’s been quite a relief not having to wonder about the two of you.”

Sabeinne narrowed her eyes. Now this threatened to cross well over the line. “And what the hell does that mean?”

Thelian chuckled bitterly. “Don’t pretend as though you haven’t heard the rumors. I would just say that it’s a bit odd, the way you’ll cast anyone aside like trash, but not him, not the mad brother who causes all your problems. You’ll rush to his side whenever he demands it.”

Sabeinne laughed dismissively, though she felt hot anger bubbling up in her belly. “Ah, Thelian, it’s been, what, fifty years? Don’t act as though you know me.”

Thelian gestured at the room demonstratively. “It doesn’t look to me as though a lot has changed. All I have to say is, you would probably be much happier if you didn’t spend all of your energies on someone who drives you to open brothels in the desert.”

“Hell! What I don’t need is you, cluttering up my establishment with your presumptuous opinions!” Sabeinne pointed imperiously at Vond, who was frozen in a posture of extreme discomfort. “Miss Vond! Get rid of him!”

Vond lunged and drove her dagger deep into his belly, withdrawing it quickly with a spurt of blood. Thelian croaked weakly and sank slowly to the floor. A pool of blood spread darkly and so, so quickly around him on the floor.

Sabeinne gaped down at him. “Hell!” She turned to glare at Vond with an expression of mingled fury and horror. “What the hell did you just do?”

Vond paused in cleaning her blade to stare at Sabeinne with wide eyes. “That wasn’t what you wanted?”

“No! God! You were supposed to manhandle him out the door! What the hell am I paying you for?” Sabeinne covered her eyes with one hand and groaned. “Hellll, these men, always popping up and causing helling complications.”

Thelian gurgled on the floor. Vond nudged him with her toe, eliciting a louder gurgle. “You want me to finish him?”

“What? No!” She prodded Vond firmly in the chest with a forefinger. “You are going to help me get this man to a helling healer!”

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